Japan Alps Art Festival 2017

ByBert Wishart
May 19, 2017

Japan Alps Art Festival 2017

While the area is famous for hiking in summer and skiing in winter, when one thinks of the mountanous prefecture of Nagano, art isn’t exactly the first thing that springs to mind. However, this preconception may be about to change.

Up in the northwest of the prefecture, from early June to the end of July, the city of Omachi will play host to the first ever Japan Alps Art Festival.

About the Japan Alps Art Festival

The festival is the brainchild of Fram Kitagawa, an experienced festival director and head of the Art Front Gallery in Daikanyama who was also an adviser to Culture City of East Asia 2016 and the director of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. Kitagawa has used this expertise to bring this festival together with the stated aim of seeing the art and artists feed the imagination and understanding of visitors, much in the same way that the water cascading down the mountains has “grown rich forests, cultivated unique lifestyle and nurtured distinctive culinary culture of the region”.

It is not only the artwork that is on display that is a draw to the festival, but the aforementioned local cuisine goes some way to enhancing the unique atmosphere. On top of all of this the festival’s setting – with the immense Kurobe dam covered in artwork and its backdrop of 3,000m peaks – only adds to the artistic visage of this extraordinary festival.

Artists to look out for at the Japan Alps Art Festival

Passage III Project Another Country by Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan

The festival will see around 40 artists gathered from both Japan and the international art community. Below are a handful to look out for.

  • Tadashi Kawamata is an artist who transforms environment. Usually using scrap or reclaimed materials, Kawamata sets about building new and unusual structures.
  • Tomoko Fuse is a Japanese origami artist and author of numerous books on the subject of modular origami, and is by many considered as a renowned master in the discipline.
  • Connected to Kitagawa through the Art Front Gallery, Toshikatsu Endo is a sculptor who creates monumental sculptures using basic elements of nature such as soil, water, fire and wind following the materialistic and illusionistic image of these elements to invite the viewers to the origin of their lives.
  • Finnish Maaria Wirkkala is a sculptor for whom light, space and time is an important part of her artwork. Her works are known for a possession of poetic emotion, and a philosophy on the relationship between humans and nature.
  • Brisbane based Philippine husband and wife collaborative duo Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan’s projects highlight the faults of modern hybrid living through the use of familiar but meaningful materials such as car parts, beds, and rehabilitation facility sandals.

Click here for a full list of artists involved in the festival.

Festival Details 2017

  • Where: Shinano Omachi Station (map)
  • When: June 4 to July 30, 2017
  • Website: www.shinano-omachi.jp
  • Admission: Adults 2,000 JPY adv, 2,500 JPY on site; high school students 1,000/1,500 JPY; elementary and junior high school students 300/500 JPY


Mark Guthrie

Image by Yu Hara, via http://shinano-omachi.jp/about-jp/about-en/ – screengrab (modified)

Image courtesy of SAM via http://sagg.info/odyssey-navigating-nameless-seas/ – screengrab (modified)

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

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